There is so much more to onboarding than saying, “So, that’s what you will be doing.” It’s about introducing the company culture, forming social connections, helping new employees become productive team members and delivering the brand promise you made while hiring them. Several studies and surveys have shown that onboarding has a direct impact on business outcomes. As a result, onboarding is now an established business function that gives organizations a competitive advantage and helps them mitigate employee turnover.

First Impressions

A great onboarding program is an opportunity to showcase how your organization will align your new hires’ success with the company’s objectives and goals. According to Michael Watkins, the author of “The First 90 Days,” “People are very excited and quite vulnerable when they take new jobs, so it’s a time in which you can have a big impact.”

The crucial question is how to turn the onboarding process into a win for employees and employers with different perspectives, especially with the current challenges that so many organizations are facing with a largely or completely remote workforce.

Virtual Onboarding Hurdles

Let’s take a look at some of the challenges that organizations are facing.

Lack of Personal Interaction

The lack of in-person interaction must be mitigated with a proper mechanism for new hires to reach out for help.

Lack of “Open Doors”

There is a difference between stopping by an employee’s or colleague’s desk and writing to him or her electronically. Both mediums of communication require certain etiquettes and considerations to avoid restricting collaboration.

Lack of Motivation

In a remote environment, new hires are likely to feel sluggish and may approach training as a burden rather than a stepping stone to success. Therefore, it’s essential to continuously motivate them.

Overcoming Obstacles and Moving Ahead With Smart Onboarding

A smart onboarding program can address all employees’ and employers’ pain points. Below is a set of onboarding practices that can reduce employee turnover in your organization.

Keep Content Short and Engaging

Nothing causes more boredom for new hires than text-heavy content. When you make your content more engaging and interactive, you can significantly decrease time to proficiency, improve productivity and enrich your workforce. Convert your lengthy handbooks into short animated videos, interactive eLearning modules and microlearning. The ultimate aim here is to avoid information overload.

Make It Real

Organizations can use augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) to orient new employees and provide them with an immersive learning environment. Companies like KFC and Walmart have been adopting VR to enhance the learning experience. By investing in AR and VR, you can help your new hires, sitting miles away, experience the workplace they are going to be a part of.

Gamify the Employee Experience

Amplify the learning process by incorporating an element of fun, and let your new hires become acquainted with the rest of the team through quests and scavenger hunts. This gamification approach gives them the opportunity to test their skills and collaborate with others. Consider assigning a mentor or a virtual coach to every player to guide them through the process and be available for support when the player faces an obstacle.

Deloitte is a great example of an organization that uses gamification to onboard new hires. A zombie apocalypse theme trains new analysts on important consulting and software skills and enabled Deloitte to reduce its onboarding costs.

Use Adaptive Learning Technology

You don’t look for the same skill in every prospective employee, so why would you use use the same approach to train them? Training should adapt to each learner’s specific needs. Adaptive learning technology can personalize the onboarding experience and enable new hires to achieve proficiency sooner, making them more confident and productive.

Engage in Career Pathing

One of your organization’s fundamental goals should be retaining the talented individuals that it spends a significant amount of time and money recruiting. With this goal in mind, it’s important to define clear paths for new hires within the organization. Let them know where they can go if they stay with your company and what career opportunities exist in other departments. Create a course for internal career development that aligns with the new hire’s skills and interests. Give them a glimpse of what their future could look like if they choose to stay with you.

Sealing the Deal: A Case Study

Here’s how a strategic onboarding program reduced learner attrition and increased engagement levels up to 100% at a valued fashion retail chain in the Middle East.

The Challenge

The company previously offered a two-day induction program, to bring its new employees up to speed, but its leaders observed that two days was not enough to engage the learners, who were not adequately prepared to carry out their duties. Due to a lack of interest, 30% of new hires did not even complete their lessons.

The Solution

To tackle this problem, the company used a well-structured onboarding program comprised of microlearning, scenario- and game-based learning, and other learning assets that were responsive and device-agnostic.

The Result

All of the new hires completed all the modules, and the scenario-based simulations prepared them to handle store issues much more effectively. Since the new hires found the revised focused content engaging, it led to a shorter time to proficiency, and, eventually, an almost negligible turnover rate.

Embarking on a new job is a huge milestone. Instituting a well-structured onboarding program ensures that new employees are familiar with the company and the role they play in its success. Investing in a smart onboarding program will enable you to identify and expedite an employee’s ability to ramp up key skills, thus setting up the new hire for success and enhancing the competitiveness of the business.